Morbid Angel
Formulas Fatal to the Flesh


4.0
excellent

Review

by Bartender EMERITUS
January 14th, 2005 | 757 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist


Released 1998 on Earache.

Steve Tucker - bass, vocals
Trey Azagthoth - guitars, keyboards, vocals
Pete Sandoval - percussion


This is probably the most contentious of the 8 albums Morbid Angel have released so far - their sixth, it was the first without long-time (and much loved) vocalist David Vincent, and is considered by many to be the point where they began to slide from the top of the death metal pile. Of the three Morbid Angel albums I own, however (the other two being Altars of Madness and Covenant), it is my favourite.

First point to address - the change of vocalist. Vincent was a big part of the old Morbid Angel, both playing bass and managing vocals, and it was never going to be easy for his replacement, Steve Tucker, to fill his place. I think the biggest point in Tucker's favour, is that he doesn't try to be Vincent. He doesn't wade into an established band and attempt to replicate their former vocalist, he starts out with his own style. The second point in his favour is that thankfully his own style doesn't suck. Like David Vincent before him, his vocals are not indecipherable; you can make out what he's barking out at you, and though his voice is slightly deeper and more gutteral than his predecessor, he fits the band remarkably well, so no worries there.

The other main point to bring up here is the number of tracks, and why there is such a number. 14 is quite numerous for a death metal album, where eight or ten is generally more usual, and, as you can probably tell from the track lengths, not every track here is a "proper" one. There's a fair amount of non-songs on here (five of the fourteen, in fact), but they're not quite filler - lyrically and conceptually, Formulas.. is a very big, ambitious album, and the tracks which fit this description are often driven by non-metal, sometimes almost tribal-sounding percussion, and Trey Azagthoth's spacey, expansive guitar, to fit the album's mood. Some of the lyrics are in Sumerian (the language of ancient Sumer, I think), and the English lyrics frequently reference ancient religion, mythology and deities. The upside of this is that when you're in the right state of mind, the album can hit you in just the right way (as it has me, once) and just seem right, and at that time you'd be prepared to declare it the greatest album ever conceived, and demand that nations be enslaved in it's name. The downside is that unless you are in that right mood, the album basically often seems too broken up and bitty to enjoy properly.

Moving away from such airy considerations, fans of the older albums will be pleased to know that Pete Sandoval is still a machine; he plays quite a variety, with the non-song tracks here, and much of the death metal material is at a fairly fast pace, which I think suits him rather well, though I suppose it ends up a matter of personal preference. Trey's guitar too is at as high a level of greatness as it ever is, especially on the 9-minute centrepiece of the album (for me, anyway), Invocation of the Continual One, which seems to be largely based around guitar (and on which he also tries his hand at vocals, and doesn't do too badly). I absolutely love his guitar tone, though I've read complaints against it before; "muddy" implies a bad production, which this doesn't have, but there is some kind of quality like that to it, and his often improvised solos are just kicking ass all over the place.

Overall, this is probably my favourite Morbid Angel album, but the fact that it often feels too fractured stops it from getting a really high score. Besides, I've yet to hear their second album, Blessed Are the Sick, by all accounts a masterpiece. Still, this is a great album - it has good cover art, for one, and like I said, when you're in the right mood for it, it's amazing. I think the main point is that I don't think Morbid Angel lost it here; they made it through the departure of a long-established vocalist without really missing a beat, and put out a fine album in the process.

Recommended track;
Invocation of the Continual One. As I said, for me it really is the centrepiece of the album, and various parts of the huge guitar workout that the track essentially is get stuck in my head for a long while any time I listen to (like now, for example). On the other hand, it is almost 10 minutes long, and so may not be the best track to be introduced to the album on. If you want something shorter, I'd suggest Nothing is Not, possibly my favourite track after Invocation.., which has the added bonus of memorable lyrics.

4/5



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Comments:Add a Comment 
DimebagDarrell
September 13th 2004


65 Comments


I really like this review :thumb:

Although ive not heard a thing off this album i probably would be temepted to buy it now if i saw it at a resonable price.

Ive got Gateway to Annihillation and Petes drumming skills on that are incredible is he just as good on this?

manuscriptreplica
September 13th 2004


431 Comments


He is one of the best drummers, ever. His double kick speed is phenominal.

Good review :thumb:

superpeer
September 13th 2004


257 Comments


Very good review, I haven't heard this, but I adore the album cover, so I'll be looking for this.

Bartender
Emeritus
September 13th 2004


826 Comments


[QUOTE=DimebagDarrell]I really like this review :thumb:

Although ive not heard a thing off this album i probably would be temepted to buy it now if i saw it at a resonable price.

Ive got Gateway to Annihillation and Petes drumming skills on that are incredible is he just as good on this?[/QUOTE]

Well like I said I've only heard this, Altars.. and Covenant, so I couldn't say. As far as I can tell his drumming is great all the time though, so I'd imagine so.

Per Ardua Ad Astra
September 13th 2004


106 Comments


Killer review, though this isn't Morbid Angel's best. It will be interesting to see the whole situation with Vincent doing tours and if there is going to be a possible return.

DimebagDarrell
September 14th 2004


65 Comments


[QUOTE=Per Ardua Ad Astra]Killer review, though this isn't Morbid Angel's best. It will be interesting to see the whole situation with Vincent doing tours and if there is going to be a possible return.[/QUOTE]

HE IS BACK! well erm at least i think so he did a gig with them not so long back they only played songs from when he was originally in the band im not sureif it was a one off concert or a permanent posistion.

Distorted Vision
September 14th 2004


184 Comments


Cool review, I'll check this out.

Why did Vincent originally leave the band?

Mekkalayakay
October 8th 2004


167 Comments


I just bought this album used for $5.99, and I am not disappointed in the album at all. I do not own any other Morbid Angel albums, but I know the "mood" thing you are talking about. I listened to this last night when I was going to bed, and it struck me; this is an unbelievable album, in odd ways that I really can not describe.

My only complaint: Buying this cd used, I found out that my cd is scratched, and I only get half of track 11, and then it goes bad. I can't get anything after that.

PoliticallyIncorrectMetalhead
October 8th 2004


44 Comments


Great Review. Pete Sandoval is a good enough reason to get any of their albums but this is a bonus reason.

Toozey
October 9th 2004


77 Comments


I think this is MA best work, I like it mostly for the progressive elements it has.

bassaholica2004
October 10th 2004


40 Comments


I haven't heard the entire album, only Nothing is Not, but if the rest of the album is like this, it seems like really great one. I like Steve's vocals a lot. They seem more, ummm, raspier or distorted, than Vincents. The lead singer in my band can sound almost exactly like him.

LordDargon
October 10th 2004


165 Comments


In case you still haven't heard Blessed are the Sick, it has the same "fractured" type songwriting at this, alot of the songs are very short, but then again it kind of all blends together into one giant, awesome song.

Mekkalayakay
October 11th 2004


167 Comments


For the first time in about seven listens, I've got past track eleven without it stopping the cd player due to severe skipping. Now that I got to track 12, I am screwed. but I am excited, because I've never heard any of this part of the cd!:eek: :upset:

FunkyJudas333
October 12th 2004


1 Comments


[QUOTE=manuscriptreplica]He is one of the best drummers, ever. His double kick speed is phenominal.

Good review :thumb:[/QUOTE]


I completely agree, he is one of the best. i believe hes brothers with the drummer for lamb of god

PoliticallyIncorrectMetalhead
October 13th 2004


44 Comments


^^^^^ Really?
Anyway, does anyone know if there newest album is any good(its on sale)

bassaholica2004
October 14th 2004


40 Comments


I just got this album, and its great. Very good stuff. I have a question though. On Covenant of Death, at about 2:20, is that him singing? It doesn't really sound like him, or maybe he's using a vocal octave effect or something.

Toozey
October 15th 2004


77 Comments


[QUOTE=FunkyJudas333]I completely agree, he is one of the best. i believe hes brothers with the drummer for lamb of god[/QUOTE]

No.

Bartender
Emeritus
October 26th 2004


826 Comments


[QUOTE=bassaholica2004]I just got this album, and its great. Very good stuff. I have a question though. On Covenant of Death, at about 2:20, is that him singing? It doesn't really sound like him, or maybe he's using a vocal octave effect or something.[/QUOTE]

It does sound different. I suppose it could be Trey, I know he contributes occasional vocals to the album.

ocelot-05
November 10th 2005


807 Comments


I just heard a Morbid Angel track called World Of Shit, off Covenant. I was skeptical, because I hate death metal, but I thought it was really good. Looks like I'll check them out now.

Shadows
Moderator
December 10th 2005


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Their later stuff is crap. Check out Altars of Madness or Blessed are the Sick for some top-notch old-school death metal.



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